By Jason Castellente
We all love it, and we all want to feel it — that rock solid low end from the kick drum is one of the only rhythmic sounds that is that low in a mix. The power and intensity from it allows your bass player to carry the melodic low end through a song.
I have always been a fan of deep, hard-hitting, smack-you-in-the-chest kick drums. While the drum, kick drum tuning and the drummer have a lot to do with the sound you get, no kick drum is going to acoustically kick you in the chest. You’re going to have to mic it. Today, there is a plethora of mics on the market for drums. There are the ones that have been shining for decades and there are ones that are changing the face of music today and adding a new dynamic if you will. Engineers who work for people like George Strait all the way to Red Hot Chili Peppers have endorsed the Audix D6.
One mic that I have been able to experiment with over the past year or so is the Audix D6. Actually, I’ve been able to experiment with basically all of Audix’s drum mics including the D6, D4, D2 and i5 so I’ll be reviewing them each individually.
Audix has a pretty solid line of drum mics, including their snare mic, tom mic, and of course their kick drum mic. I had been talking to friends and reading up on the D6 online and had heard that some people we making it their “go to” mic. Whenever I read something like that, I know I have got to get my hands on it.
Great sound right out of the box
At first glance, the mic is made of aluminum and is built like a tank. It features your typically wire mess covering the top of the mic but also has openings on the sides for sound pressure rejection and room for the mic to breathe. It’s solid with a small stem on the back where you can clip the mic to a stand. It features are cardioid pick up pattern which picks up everything from 30 Hz – 15 Khz which is a pretty wide frequency range. It can easily take up to 144 dB of sound pressure level.
About a year ago, I toured with a band from my college and my drummer bought the Audix D6 for this 24-inch kick. When we put it on his kick and brought the gain up on the console, we both looked at each other and smiled because we knew the sound we were getting was good without any EQ adjustments. My philosophy is “more mixing, less fixing” so if I can get a great sound straight out of the box, all I have to do is creatively fit it into the mix.
I did notice that the mic did not have an output that was as high as other kick drum mics that I was used to and I had to push the gain a little harder then I expected. Fortunately, the drummer I was working with pounds the kick pretty hard, so it really was not an issue for me. However, if you are working with a drummer who does NOT kick hard, then the audio engineer will be forced to push the preamp on the mixing console harder which could potentially introduce noise into the system.
The low end was rock solid. But rock solid is nothing if other “junk” in the mids and highs covers it up. However, the mids were pleasantly scooped just enough to clean the mic up nicely. That mid scoop certainly didn’t effect the high end enough to cause problems. The high end was clear providing the needed articulation and attack for a clean, punchy, low kick drum. Some people have complained that the mic has a metal genre vibe to it and I certainly hear that. Yes, it can be a bit much at times, however, it certainly appreciate it as an audio engineer because I have the freedom to get the attack and definition of the kick drum out in front if I desire to do so.
I proceeded to put it on a smaller kick and I must say, the results were quite different. The smaller kick’s fundamental frequency was higher and was unfortunately caught in that midrange frequency scoop. After playing with the EQ for a while, I was able to get it to sound good. To me, if the mic should sound good and usable naturally. If I have to stand there and wrestle with the EQ, maybe either my mic placement is wrong or I should try a different mic given that the instrument itself is solid.
Another application, is using it to mic the bottom portion of a Leslie. I had the opportunity to mix with one. Naturally, I took the opportunity to try the D6 on there. It had a huge open sound that sounded nothing short of awesome. It gave me the low end that I was looking for while still maintaining the character and the beauty that makes the Leslie an amazing musical instrument. I was blown away. If I ever mix with a Leslie again, that will most definitely be my “go to” mic for that application.
The bottom line
The bottom line is this is a solid competitor on the market today. It has a great sound and is built to handle the rigors of the road. However, you must give proper consideration to your application with this mic. That rule should apply to the usage of any mic but especially this one. Consider what you are trying to mic and what your end goal is. Then, consider what will get you to your end goal. The Audix D6 may be just what you are looking for.
KNOT FM – America’s Rock Station